Umhlobo Wenene FM brings IsiXhosa broadcasting to Bulawayo for cultural and heritage experience

Natasha Mutsiba,[email protected]

UMHLOBO Wenene FM, a popular South African radio station, is set to broadcast in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe for a cultural and heritage experience called “Khenketha NoMhlobo Cultural and Heritage Experience” from 18 to 21 September.

This programme will also see the nation’s longest broadcasting show, i-Brakfesi Eyondlayo Ekuseni (BEE) which has been broadcasting since 2009. The breakfast show has had massive listenership, commanding 1.4 million listeners accounted for nationally according to RAMS, a radio measurement tool used in South Africa.

In a Press statement by UMhlobo Wenene FM, Mr Loyiso Bala, Business Manager for Umhlobo Wenene FM expressed his excitement about this initiative.

“We are thrilled to embark on this cultural and Heritage Day during the month of September, which coincides with Heritage and Tourism month in South Africa as well as World Tourism Day,” he said.

The programme will be in partnership with VIB Mobile, a vendor for Mobile Network Operations in Southern African countries.

“VIB Mobile is eagerly anticipating a successful and enriching experience that will leave a lasting impact on the participating presenters and staff at Umhlobo Wenene FM, the fortunate contest winner, and the broader IsiXhosa speaking-community,” said the group CEO of VIB Mobile, Leroy Monaheng in a press statement.

The Marketing Manager at Umhlobo Wenene FM, Chwayita Cyw Mandindi, said the primary objective of this initiative is to “foster stronger connections among IsiXhosa speakers in South Africa and Zimbabwe, while celebrating their shared cultural heritage.”

The significance of this event lies in the minority group of IsiXhosa speakers known as Amafengu in Zimbabwe.

“Amafengu make up part of a greater collective of the AmaXhosa clan found in South Africa. They are migrants that moved to Zimbabwe from the Eastern Cape province of South Africa just over 100 years ago. IsiXhosa is recognised as an official language in both South Africa and Zimbabwe, and Amafengu from Zimbabwe simply add a further 200,000 to that collective, making IsiXhosa one of the most widely spoken languages in Southern Africa,” she said.

The interaction between Umhlobo Wenene FM and the IsiXhosa-speaking community in Zimbabwe is expected to have a significant impact.

“Overall, the interaction between Umhlobo Wenene FM and the IsiXhosa-speaking community in Zimbabwe can play a significant role in preserving culture, promoting education, and strengthening ties between communities across borders. Exposure to IsiXhosa through Umhlobo Wenene FM may aid in preserving and promoting the IsiXhosa language among both South Africans and Zimbabweans, especially if there are efforts to learn or reinforce the language,” she said.

This broadcast also contributes to cultural exchange and understanding between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“Through social cohesion, Umhlobo Wenene FM can provide educational content, news, and programming that inform the IsiXhosa-speaking community in Zimbabwe about developments in South Africa and other pertinent matters,” said Mandindi.

The trip to Bulawayo opens up prospects for future collaborations and interactions between Umhlobo Wenene FM and the IsiXhosa-speaking community in Zimbabwe.

 “The trip plans to open up any prospects and avenues around exactly that, amongst them being collaborations between Umhlobo Wenene FM and ZBC’s Khulumani FM and the veteran broadcaster Nombulelo Masoka, whose show directly impacts IsiXhosa speaking Zimbabweans,” she said.

Umhlobo Wenene FM aims to increase its visibility and footprint beyond borders through this broadcast in Bulawayo. According to Mandindi, the trip’s goal is to “increase both visibility and the footprint of Umhlobo Wenene FM beyond borders. IsiXhosa speakers everywhere should want to tune only to Umhlobo Wenene FM”. She  also mentions that SABC’s mandate is to “inform, educate and entertain,” and with the content collected from the trip, they hope to make it available as an “educational resource for schools and universities, contributing to the broader understanding of indigenous culture.”

Through this initiative, Umhlobo Wenene FM and the IsiXhosa-speaking community in Zimbabwe are set to strengthen their cultural ties, preserve their heritage, and promote mutual understanding between South Africa and Zimbabwe. _@TashaMutsiba.

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